South America has staggering variety when it comes to cuisine. Every country has its own specialties; and within countries you'll find a great range (with coastal recipes quite different from cooking traditions in the interior). The capitals and big cities of South America are all fertile grounds for foodies, though increasingly, you can also find fantastic meals in smaller towns. Memorable meals can sometimes be had at markets, as well.

The Basics

Reservations aren't necessary for casual eateries, but are recommended for midrange and top-end restaurants. Reserve several weeks in advance for the best places.

  • Cafes Snacking and sipping with less formality amid a bar or coffeeshop vibe.
  • Cevicherias In Peru and Ecuador you'll find casual lunch spots serving up fresh fish marinated in lime juice, with many variations on the theme.
  • Grill houses Known as parillas in Argentina and churrascarias in Brazil, these places specialize in barbecue meat.
  • Pay-by-Weight You'll find extensive lunch buffets in some places (particularly in Brazil), where you select what you want and then pay per 100 grams.
  • Restaurants Ranging from fine dining to basic, these sometimes serve a discounted set menu known as menú del dia at lunch.